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May 29, 2018

Starbucks investors question cost of bias training, Schultz says

Howard Schultz

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Some Starbucks Corp. shareholders have questioned the cost of the coffee giant’s nationwide anti-bias training initiative, Chairman Howard Schultz said.

The company is closing about 8,000 company-owned stores for training Tuesday afternoon, a move that Bloomberg estimated will cost around US$16.7 million in lost revenue. It’s a response to an incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks, where an employee called the police on two black men who were sitting in the cafe and hadn’t ordered yet.

Shareholders questioned the expense of the training, including some who spoke directly to Schultz, the former chief executive officer who is credited with expanding the brand across the U.S. He likened the cost of the training to providing health care or tuition help for employees.

“We don’t view it as an expense -- we view it as an investment in our people and the long-term culture and values of Starbucks,” he told reporters in New York. “This is what we believe we need to do as a company to provide the balance between profit and social impact.”

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